Out of Context: Dave Terpstra

"I think our generation is approaching ministry more as an art than a science. Since the Enlightenment, 'doing church' has been seen as a science, and it was seen as linear, organized, with clearcut leadership principles. Our generation doesn't see things that way anymore. We approach things more creatively, more organically."

-Dave Terpstrais teaching pastor of The Next Level Church in Denver. Taken from "Next & Level" in the Spring 2008 issue of Leadership journal. To see the quote IN context, you'll need to see the print version of Leadership. To subscribe, click on the cover of Leadership on this page.

May 08, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 16 comments

Joe Miller

May 16, 2008  2:06pm

Wow, a leadership model developed on the model of US... some people would call it an Elder polity with shared leadership which is rooted in the Scripture... but I guess U2 works just as well and it is a lot more culturally relevant than the NT.

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Kip Keith

May 12, 2008  4:15pm

So, emergents are simply seeking to return to the glorious, pristine simplicity of the original "organic" church? That wouldn't be the church recorded in the book of Acts and addressed in the New Testament letters, would it? Nah, couldn't be. That church had to deal with issues of racism, sexism, class envy, favoritism, and petty schisms - not to mention incest (of a kind that does not occur even among pagans!) and rambunctious partying at the Communion table! I'm weary of those trying to create the perfect church - whether you call it a generous orthodoxy or a Christianity worth believing. I've always heard that if you find the perfect church, don't join it - you'll ruin it. I've also heard that this emergent movement is for the "spiritually mature". Sorry, but "spiritually mature" sounds like another way of saying "holier than thou".

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May 12, 2008  1:34pm

The original church was 'organic' because it was an 'organism' – it was the only living being that did away with buildings, priests, sacrifices, and rituals. (You could use the definition that it indeed "affected living tissue".) Thus it evolved organically: developing in a manner analogous to the natural growth and evolution characteristic of living organisms; arising as a natural outgrowth. 'Ekklesia' was used each time in the Bible to describe the human component of the Body of Christ, literally. Many leaving the church are returning to this because of a hunger for the original G-d and Christ instead of following contrived humanistic forms that follow adopted manmade rules & ritual, mostly from the time of Constantine. Also, the choice to leave institutional Christianity is because many of those inside are closed off to change and the wish for unity is stronger than division. This is the gentle prophetic voice.

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May 10, 2008  2:46pm

Ah... nothing like blasting away at a few words taken out of context. Maybe the point of this segment is for us to seek the context before being so quick to approve or disapprove? I think I sat in a seminary class once that taught me the importance of doing just that. TNL church's leadership philosophy and structure is very much reflective of their own unique story and journey, not just postmodernism in general. Rather than fire away at Dave's comment, spend that brief amount of time looking at the story behind it. It'll be worth it.

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Kip Keith

May 09, 2008  12:23pm

I'm all for fresh, innovative methods of delivering sound doctrine - in fact, I think it's crucial. I'm just concerned when I hear doctrine and leadership spoken of in disparaging terms. The church is the pillar and foundation of truth - the soft, compromising nature of the latest trends threaten to turn it into the "pillow and cessation" of truth (cue cymbal crash).

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Rob Dunbar

May 09, 2008  7:12am

I might disagree that liner leadership began with the Enlightenment (what, there was no Pope before the 1500s?), and the buzzwords "art" and "organic" don't appeal to me, but the idea Dave is expressing is sound: Biblically, there's more than one way to run a church. "Submit yourselves one to another" requires some form of co-submission even for leaders. This is an idea I've come to accept only recently. You don't have to be "emergent" to know that an organization isn't an organism. Only one of them is the New Testament church.

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steve martin

May 09, 2008  1:21am

Yes...and, No. That's all I can 'organically' come up with at this late hour. I'll do better next time...

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Randal Kay

May 08, 2008  5:54pm

You want "organic?" Try the 1960's, now THAT was an "organic" time. I've said it before, and I'll say it again (maybe I should write a book about it, everybody else writes books), but all this "new" emerging, organic, creative talk is pretty much Jesus People Movement 2.0. That's not to say we don't need some fresh reminders to keep it fresh. oooh another organic term.

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Kip Keith

May 08, 2008  3:52pm

Here we go again . . . another clanging emergent cymbal. Has everyone just gotten bored with church? And if so, is the church out of whack, or are these people just no longer putting up with sound doctrine? BRAVO for the comment about the over-use of the word "organic". If I hear of one more "organic" ministry or Bible-study, I'm gonna blow synthetically processed chunks! Sorry about that. Blame it on over 20 years of youth ministry.

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May 08, 2008  3:25pm

Interesting post. I loved it. I think we can never find the right approach to ministry until we let God direct us and we consult Him on what we do and want to do in our church. May God never be left out. Again, great post yet again. I frequent this blog quite often. Keep up the great blogging. I have another request that is off the topic if you don't mind. I have a prayer request on my blog for a family that is suffering greatly. I have never seen this kind of trial and difficulty that this family has had and I have work in ministry for over 15 years. So please...stop by and make a differnce for this family. God bless you in all you do. In Him, Kinney Mabry Aka, Preacherman

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